MONTEREY, Calif. (August 31, 2001) - As the 2001 American Le Mans Series season winds down after six events, BMW tops the manufacturer's, team and driver's championship standings as it heads into the penultimate round, the Monterey Sports...
MONTEREY, Calif. (August 31, 2001) - As the 2001 American Le Mans Series season winds down after six events, BMW tops the manufacturer's, team and driver's championship standings as it heads into the penultimate round, the Monterey Sports Car Championships at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, on September 9. BMW's goal? To extend these leads and to grab a fifth consecutive victory.
Four wins in the last four races for the new V8-powered M3 GTRs have put BMW into the GT manufacturer's lead over Porsche by 16 points, and BMW Motorsport drivers Jörg Müller and JJ Lehto are first and second in the GT driver's standings. Adding to BMW's list of successes, BMW Motorsport and Team PTG sit first and third in the GT Team championship*.
The classic 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit-with-a-twist -- which includes the famous corkscrew comprising Turns 7 and 8 -- has been the site of two recent BMW ALMS victories.
In 1999 BMW Motorsport teammates Lehto and Steve Soper won overall in a BMW V12 LMR, setting a record for the fastest winning speed (98.387 mph). Last year Boris Said and Hans Stuck won the GT class in a Team PTG BMW M3, ending a 13-race ALMS GT win streak for Porsche. Said and Stuck finished 14th overall after starting 28th overall and eighth in class, the lowest starting position by far for a class winner in 2000.
Team PTG is seeking a second consecutive ALMS GT victory at the picturesque circuit and is looking forward to the return of Bill Auberlen, who was injured in a crash at the ALMS Grand Prix of Mosport three weeks ago.
"It was very hard to miss Mosport and Mid-Ohio," said Auberlen. "I am ready to get back behind the wheel of the M3 GTR - one of the best racing cars I have ever driven at one of the world's most beautiful circuits. I've been feeling great since a few days after the accident and have been resting and working out. It is behind me and now I am ready to win."
"We are pleased to have Bill back," said Team PTG owner Tom Milner. "Bill knows our M3s possibly better than anyone and his set-up knowledge at a circuit like Laguna Seca will be invaluable. This will only be our fifth race with the GTR and we are learning with every lap. We have proven that we are fast with four race records in a row, but only have the Portland win. I think we still have something to prove."
"Last year Laguna Seca was a hard-fought win in a tough season for Team PTG and is a win that BMW is extremely proud of," said Tom Salkowsky, motorsports manager, BMW of North America, LLC. "This year -- to the credit of Team PTG and BMW Motorsport -- we head to Laguna Seca in a much more favorable position and are looking to not just win a race, but three championships. It will do our team good to see Bill Auberlen back in the driver's seat and I hope it is not too much longer that we see him in victory lane."
BMW is aiming for its fifth GT manufacturer's title since it entered GT competition in 1995, and its fourth driver's crown.
The M3 GTR is the foundation of a renewed M3 racing effort for BMW as both BMW Team PTG and BMW Motorsport vie for the American Le Mans Series GT class championship in 2001.
The 2-hour, 45-minute Monterey Sports Car Championships is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. PDT and will be televised live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. EDT. The race can be heard online through the American Le Mans Radio Web at www.americanlemans.com.